Did you know that as well as being something that makes your skin silky smooth in the shower, loofah is a deliciously delicious squash? In fact, this is the incarnation I knew it as growing up and it is not until I started getting strange looks in the school lunch room that I realized I ought to stop talking about what I had for dinner the night before.
My mother, father, uncle and two aunts came recently to visit, and as is custom they came bearing many foodstuffs as gifts. Among them: a box of Reese’s candy bars, some bags of fish sung, a couple of moon cakes, fruit (dragon fruit, plums) and a bag of loofah. Now, loofah is available in the Chinatown supermarkets here in Houston but I hardly ever make it out there, so this was very exciting to me, and even better was that before she left, my mother prepared them for me!
Loofah in their native (non bath) habitat present as a thick skinned, ridged, long squash. To prepare them, use a vegetable peeler to mostly peel the rough skin (some can remain), then quarter the squash lengthwise and slice thinly. 1/2 inch slices will do. Toss a few smashed garlic cloves in hot oil until fragrant, then add the loofah. It will lose shape quickly and sweat a lot of liquid. Add water if necessary to create a delicious, mild broth (my mother prefers it soupy, I like it less soupy). Season, and serve over rice. Loofah has a very mild, delicate flavor that I can only describe as “green,” and I usually need to put what seems like an inordinate amount of salt in it.